Thursday, October 09, 2008

Company Blog Checkup: Avis

On the Avis-UK blog, the company claims that it is "the first car rental company to start a blog". Ok I believe them, as I can't recall another competitor that has one (please leave a comment if you do know of a car rental company besides Avis that's blogging).

The blog seems to be positioned as primarily being a travel resource for its readers. This makes perfect sense, because if you are renting a car, odds are its because you are traveling. The blog does have some self-promotional elements, but frames these posts in a 'tell us what you think' way, so that even when they are promoting themselves, the readers are encouraged to give feedback. Nice touch.

When we look at comments on the blog, we see that about half the posts have comments, and those that do usually have between 1 and 4 comments. But I noticed something interesting, in the posts that have multiple comments, there is usually at least one comment/reply left by Rob White, who according to his bio on the blog, is Avis's UK Marketing Manager. Now if the blog team have made a conscious choice to let Rob handle most of the comments, especially customer-service related ones, that's one thing. But if Rob is simply taking the lead in replying to comments, I would like to see the other bloggers also spend more time replying to comments. Many posts only have one comment, and when a reader comments the first time and never gets a reply, they will often make that first unanswered comment, be their last one on the blog.

Next up, let's tackle the posting schedule. The blog averages about 2 posts a week, which is about the minimum you'd like to see from a company blog, especially one with multiple authors. But I also noticed several gaps of 5 or 6 days inbetween posts. Hard to develop a readership that way, I think simply tightening the existing 2-a-week posting schedule to have a new post up on Tuesday and Thursday, would greatly improve the blog's chances of growing its readership.

Finally, let's examine the sidebars. I see one thing (missing) that I really hate, and one part that I really like. First, notice that yet again, we have another blog that does NOT have pictures up of its bloggers on the front of the blog. Now the blog does have a link on the front of the blog to the bloggers' pictures and bios. But when you click over to see their pictures and bios, note the positions that these bloggers hold within Avis. 'Head of Customer Support', 'Head of Region South', 'Intranet Webmaster', 'Head of Marketing', and 'Marketing Manager'. These are SENIOR marketing and customer service people with Avis-UK. Why in the world would you NOT want to have these people's pictures on the front of the blog? These are the people that you WANT to be connecting with your blog's readers. Oh well, guess that's why social media consultants like me are needed, but it's still frustrating.

But one thing that the Avis-UK blog does that I love, is it runs a poll on the sidebar. This is a great way to quickly and easily get feedback from readers, and it also gives the readers a sense of having more input into the direction of the content on the blog. Love it.

Otherwise, the sidebars look pretty blah and plain. The lack of blogger pics is very noticeable as all you see is one 'box' after another with the red border. Nice to be consistent with branding, but it needs to be punched up a bit. The majority of the 'must-have' elements are present, including Topics, Most Popular Posts and Recent Comments (yay!) . I would like to see a blogroll, there's plenty of travel-oriented sites and blogs that could be added that help bolster the blog's positioning as being a resource for travelers.

Overall, I think Avis-UK's blog is a decent effort. Not spectacular, but not a disaster either. A few tweaks here and there would definitely help.

And now let's break down the scoring for the blog:

Content: 28 (Out of a possible 35) - I like the positioning as being a resource for travelers.

Comments: 19 (Out of a possible 35) - Fair, but a bit more interaction from multiple authors in the comments section would help tremendously.

Posting Schedule: 6 (Out of a possible 15) - Would like to see the 5-6 day gaps between posts eliminated, and one more post a week would be nice as well.

Sidebars: 8 (Out of a possible 15) - Definitely needs the blogger's pics on front page, and a blogroll, at least.

Total Score: 61 (Out of a possible 100)

If anyone from Avis wants to discuss this Company Blog Checkup with me, feel free to leave a comment here, or email me. If your company would like to hire me to do an extensive checkup of your blog, or if you want to launch your own blog, you can click here for more information on my blogging and social media consulting services.

Next week I'll profile another blogging company, and if anyone can think of a company blog that they want me to do a checkup on, feel free to email me! For a list of all the blog that have been profiled so far in the Company Blog Checkup series, click here.



Excellent review, Mack—and I am happy to see genuine follow-ups from a company that claims to ‘try harder’.

Mack Collier said...

Thank you Jack! Hope all is well in your part of the world!